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For The Love of Sound

by Richard Blount II in Comments: 0

Peggy Still Johnson in recording studio Oz Magazine got the chance to interview Peggy Still Johnson, an accomplished film and music producer for film and digital media in Georgia. We were able to learn more about the importance of sound through our interview with Johnson and her passion for film. At an early age, her love for film scores made her realize that she wanted to become a composer and music supervisor for film. She has a very impressive résumé that most people can only aspire to have, and she is proof that it is possible. Her responses are thoughtful and full of clarity as she explains how she has gotten to where she is now in her career.

In the years after graduating from college, her aspirations were to work in film. She performed in bands, founded and sold a successful music school in Georgia called the Peggy Still School of Music, and then ran a non-profit organization. She has had opportunities to work in notable productions like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Bessie, and Parental Guidance. …Johnson adds, “I have worked on a number of independent projects as a composer and music supervisor and now work with the post team at GO Media Productions and Pendulum-Productions. Though I still work wearing many hats in film and in fundraising, I enjoy most working in post-production composing stems, creating theme songs, working in sound design, and music supervision.” Johnson has also held leadership positions that include serving on the Board of Governors (Composer Seat) for the Recording Academy (Grammy Organization.)

Johnson’s humility shines through all that she shares with us, including talking about her musical influences ranging “from Brian Eno, Philip Glass, to Trent Reznor. As a female composer and in the industry, Hildur Guðnadóttir (Oscar winning female composer of the movie Joker) really gives me hope that women may be given more opportunities and women can create raw, edgy, and impactful work. Tyler Perry’s commitment to filming in Georgia has also influenced me to keep believing that we Georgians, if we create it, the work will come. My college teacher and mentor Dr. Robert Thompson has taught me so much, always believed in me, and influenced my work, and now Wayne Overstreet and Len Gibson of GO Media Productions are a huge inspiration to me as they continue to mentor and teach me more about the industry and about post-production. The other talented, brave, and successful women I work with and admire like Mala Sharma, Margaret Marshall, and Diane Durrett also continue to be a strength to me in my journey along with my longtime writing and producing partner Nev Walker. Nev and I were both mentored by Eddie Horst (composer of “In The Heat of the Night” and Man on the Moon) and there isn’t a month that goes by that we don’t talk about Eddie and the influence he still has in our work and in our lives.”

From silent films to talkies to how film has evolved today, we have made a giant leap technologically, in regards to sound. It’s no secret that sound has always been an important factor in a film, and music has strengthened that importance. Music will make the audience feel intensity or sorrow, or even the excitement of a grand adventure. Sound’s impact is limitless and gives an otherwise bland scene color. If you were to go to a theater with surround sound and just close your eyes, you would be able to feel the emotion along with the vibration of the sound. You would be able to get the tone and the emotion of the film without seeing one scene. That is what makes sound so precious.

Johnson feels that “Sound can make or break any project. If the sound quality and score is at a poor level in creativity or in mixing and mastering, it will distract from the film experience for the audience. I have always been a minimalist meaning, I feel it is better to support the visuals rather than overpower with too much music or sound. My favorite film composers are Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, and Trent Reznor. Their work is of high quality and highly creative using sound textures in addition to orchestrations and layering. I really think sound design and sound effects are very important and can be incorporated into the music score or vice versa. Feature film dramas like The Social Network show how effective a good score, sound effects, and sound design can have on a film adding so much tension and release even where there is no real action in the film.”

With technology being a huge part of Johnson’s job, technological advancements have been the cornerstone of sound’s evolution in television and film. Without it, we would still be watching silent films while a pianist plays the accompaniment near the stage. For Johnson, “The creation of ProTools and Finale and other similar digital audio workstations… have been a game changer in the industry. In the 90’s I started using Cakewalk music software (now considered vintage) and the Alesis ADAT digital 8 track recorder and created my avant garde album Footsteps using mostly analog recording. Today, with plugins, time sync, and music notation software, the sky’s the limit. Our team at Pendulum-Productions recorded our latest album Pendulum working remotely sending files to one another (to as far as London) through the internet. We only needed a couple of recording sessions to lay down live tracks but it was amazing through the pandemic how we were able to still create and also work together also creating the soundtrack and film score for the documentary film Hello World (now streamed in 56 countries) without being in the same room together. It is because of the advances of technology we are able to have home studios which saves on overall film budgets and we can be selective on booking studio time (which also saves time and money) and yet not be impacted by circumstances out of our control like COVID-19.” No longer are we unable to create due to unforeseen circumstances. Now that recording equipment and the internet are largely accessible, people are able to learn, create, and publish something all with the click of a button (or more). It can only be imagined what the future will have in store for us as sound technology develops even further.

It is important to Johnson that people know that Georgia has the talent and that successful projects can not only be created here but also completed in post-production. As we know, Georgia is one of the top producers of TV and film because our tax incentives are great for productions, but something I was unaware of is that post-production is still lacking as far as Georgia is concerned. The majority of post work is being done elsewhere. People are being hired out of state because that is what they are used to doing. Johnson stated, “Georgia still has a way to go to attract post-production projects. Generally post-production work is given to post teams in Los Angeles, New York, and Nashville. Filmmakers want to finish their films in their home town and/or work with those they are most comfortable with. With better post-production tax incentives, we may influence some filmmakers who are willing to take a chance on Georgia talent, especially if they can receive money back from the incentive. Our post-production tax incentives in Georgia need to be updated to benefit film production companies instead of benefitting the post house. The way the incentives work today for post-production, there is not much allure in hiring Georgia talent for post.” Hopefully this will change at some point as people become more aware that Georgia is more than capable of handling a production from start to finish. Johnson continues that “This is something that Georgia Post Alliance (GPA) has been working on to bring awareness of our collective group of talent and creatives in Georgia working in post. I am hopeful with the many working to bring awareness of the talent that is here.” “We as a team at GO Media Productions work together to analyze the films with the director, producer, and post teams giving our input on what we feel is working great for the film and what needs improvement. I do have great respect for those working in all aspects of post from coloring to sound. It is fascinating and vital to creating a good film. My hope is that more programs in Georgia are created to train up and coming talented students to learn the craft of visual and sound work in post-production.”

Johnson states, “Post-production as a whole fascinates and excites me. I am so blessed to have a wonderful music and sound design team at Pendulum-Productions but also to work with GO Media Production’s post-production team. Under the supervision of Wayne Overstreet, long time post-production veteran and General Manager (Wolffe Bros Post and Overstreet Production & Post), we are working in post offering everything from editing, coloring, ADR, SFX, VFX, motion graphics, mixing, mastering, music, sound design, and clearances. As a producer and manager, I love it all! Though GO Media Productions develops, funds, and distributes films, because of Wayne Overstreet, Len Gibson, and myself, we are very interested in post-production especially offering services here in Georgia hiring Georgia talent. We are also looking for interns in video production and digital marketing with social media. We always have a preference to work with those who live in Georgia. Though there are so many new innovations in technology today, talent in Georgia is what I am excited most about.”

With a rich and complex history, “Georgia’s sound legacy is like nowhere else in the world. From the origination of the blues, to recognizably Georgian’ styles of R&B, Southern rock, hip hop to classical. Georgia’s music has shaped the soundtrack for the world. For this reason, past rockers like Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, and Trent Reznor, have had much success mixing commercial music with old school classical orchestrating. So I believe Georgia has had a huge influence on music, scores, and soundtracks created today especially since Georgia has influenced music for decades from the blues, to country, to hip hop to classical. As a composer, I am inspired and influenced by the music created in Georgia. I really enjoyed working with John Mellencamp, Andy York, and their team collaborating with Stephen King and T Bone Burnett in the musical “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.” The incredible music was Americana blues with a folk and gothic feel and I feel to be some of John Mellencamp’s best work. T Bone Burnett has had a huge influence bringing the Americana feel to film and television scores which of course is highly influenced by the music created here in Georgia and in the South.”

When asked if she had any advice to give to people wanting to branch into sound design and music production in film, Johnson said, “Anything you do, do it because you love it and remember it is not a sprint. Becoming proficient at your craft and getting gigs takes time and if you really love working in film on the sound and music side, the work will come if you keep at it. You may have to score a few films for free or for not much pay but it will help you grow your demo reel and of course grow your experience. The more diverse projects you can work on, the more diverse your tools and creativity will be. We all have our specialties and preferences. Some are technicians and some prefer to be creative artists. If you can practice at both and of course read music and know orchestration, your odds of success will be higher.” Johnson’s experience and humility and love for her craft give off an energy that I would love to learn from, being a woman in a male-dominated industry.

Johnson is exemplary of the journey that we all take in this life. When asked if she had anything else that she wanted to share, she simply stated, “I feel incredibly blessed to have moved from San Diego to Georgia over 35 years ago and incredibly blessed to be here during such an exciting time in the industry…I feel my best work is yet to come.”

Peggy Still Johnson

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Peggy Still Johnson

Film and Music Producer for Film and Digital Media,  Fundraiser, Nonprofit and Creative Consultant

Peggy is a film and music producer, composer, songwriter, arranger, orchestrator and music/sound supervisor for film, television, animation, trailers and digital media and founded Pendulum-Productions and Pendulum Music Label.  She is also a fundraising and creative consultant for entertainment, nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

Film-Television:

Producer, Composer & Music Supervisor for Pendulum-Productions. Pendulum-Productions develops projects and provides production, music and sound design for film, television, animation, trailers and digital media.

Vice President of External Affairs for GO Media Productions: GO Media Productions is investing into Georgia’s film business that will provide/keep those important post-production jobs like music, film-editing, sound design and special effects in Georgia.

Nonprofit: Peggy works with Atlanta Habitat for Humanity as their Giving and Grants Director helping with fundraising, strategy, grants, messaging and partnerships. Atlanta Habitat has empowered thousands of families through homeownership since 1983. Today, they do so much more. As the largest nonprofit, affordable single-family housing developer in the city and one of the largest affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International, Atlanta Habitat goes beyond-the-build to spur neighborhood revitalization and enable homeowners to pursue educational and professional goals that will positively impact families for generations.

Former Clients (Consulting): Peggy worked with Women in Technology and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity helping with fundraising, strategy and grant writing. Peggy was the Fort Mac Redevelopment Arts and Philanthropy Director focusing on and overseeing the creative arts and community outreach direction for the redevelopment of 145 acres of Fort McPherson consulting for Macauley and working with the Fort Mac LRA, The Prince’s Foundation and serving on the Fort Mac Public Arts Advisory Council. Peggy also worked with Heritage Sandy Springs Museum and Park, The Center for Working Families Inc. (TCWFI) and Mission4Movement (nonprofit foundation for Dance 411) and more consulting on marketing, messaging, fundraising, community engagement and partnerships.

Leadership: Peggy was the Executive Director for Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. The Callanwolde team under Peggy’s direction transformed the center in less than 5 years (Press Release Link – Peggy Still Johnson Retiring from Callanwolde Fine Arts Center). In 2017, Peggy was asked to speak about fundraising and capital campaigns in Washington D.C. at the National Building Museums Symposium.

Peggy serves on the Boards for US Intellectual Property Alliance (USIPA), Georgia Intellectual Property Alliance (GIPA), Georgia State University School of Music, Georgia Music Partners, Atlanta Film Festival, has served for 5 years on the Board of Governors (Composer Seat) for The Recording Academy (Grammy Organization.) She is an alumna of Leadership Atlanta (class of 2013), Leadership DeKalb (class of 2014) and Leadership Sandy Springs (class of 2020).

Producer, Composer, Artist and Creative Services: Peggy founded Pendulum-Productions developing projects and content and providing fundraising, production, music, sound design for film, television, animation, trailers and digital media projects. Peggy released her avant garde CD Footsteps and later a single (“Pie Jesu”) she wrote for the award-winning film Requiem for Herstory. “Pie Jesu” was on the ballot for the 54th Grammy Awards and nominated for an Indie Award for Best Classical and Orchestral Song (Independent Label Music Award.) Peggy worked with Stephen King, John Mellencamp, T Bone Burnett and Andy York on their musical production Ghost Brothers of Darkland County as the vocal coach and copyist (working on the musical score.) Peggy recently through Pendulum Music Label and Pendulum-Productions released Hello World Soundtrack from the documentary Hello World discussing the need for diversity and inclusion within technology companies, colleges and universities. Peggy also released Pendulum with Pendulum-Productions on Pendulum Music Label. Peggy has performed all over the world as a soloist and in bands and also performed in Maui for former President George and Barbara Bush along with singing as a soloist the “National Anthem” at Turner Field (Atlanta Braves Game) and Philips Arena (Atlanta Hawks Game.) Peggy founded the Peggy Still School of Music in 1988 which grew to three locations, 600 students and 45 teachers. Peggy successfully sold the Peggy Still School of Music in 2011.  She also founded Peggy Johnson Productions & Talent where she worked as a music and production supervisor, casting agent, coached/developed talent, and a composer/arranger of music for film.  She has worked on such films and television shows (coaching, casting, composing, music supervision and production): Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Parental Guidance, Bessie, Requiem for Herstory, GreenleafHello World, American IdolAmerica’s Got Talent, and more. Peggy is producing through Pendulum-Productions the following: Lion’s Tooth, Heianzan, WE Sing, Abigail and the Dream Adventurers, Don’t Worry I’m Fine and will be working on music and sound design for all 5 projects with her team at Pendulum-Productions.  Peggy composed music for the Points of Light video presentation at the Kennedy Center and arranged, performed, & recorded music for the Dedication of the Atlanta Temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Long bio: Peggy Still Johnson attended Brigham Young University and Georgia State University and received a B.M. Degree (Magna Cum Laude) focused on music composition for film and digital media. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Kappa Lambda (Music Honor’s Society,) Phi Kappa Phi, and Golden Key National Honor’s Society. She is the recipient of the Champion Award from the Entrepreneur Network at Georgia State University and the See Green Award from CeeLo Green and Shedonna Alexander of The GreenHouse Foundation.

Film and Television:

Producer, Composer & Music Supervisor for Pendulum-Productions. Peggy founded Pendulum-Productions and Pendulum Music Label. Pendulum-Productions provides fundraising, production, music and sound design for film, television, animation, trailers and digital media.

Vice President of External Affairs for GO Media Productions: GO Media Productions is investing into Georgia’s film business that will provide/keep those important post-production jobs like music, film-editing, sound design and special effects in Georgia.

Nonprofit: Peggy works with Atlanta Habitat For Humanity as their Giving and Grants Director overseeing fundraising, strategy, grants, messaging and partnerships. Atlanta Habitat has empowered thousands of families through homeownership since 1983. Today, they do so much more. As the largest nonprofit, affordable single-family housing developer in the city and one of the largest affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International, Atlanta Habitat goes beyond-the-build to spur neighborhood revitalization and enable homeowners to pursue educational and professional goals that will positively impact families for generations.

Former Clients (Consulting): Peggy worked with Women and Technology and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity overseeing fundraising, strategy, giving, grants and partnerships. Peggy was the Fort Mac Redevelopment Arts and Philanthropy Director focusing on and overseeing the creative arts and community outreach direction for the redevelopment of 145 acres of Fort McPherson consulting for Macauley and working with the Fort Mac LRA, The Prince’s Foundation and serving on the Fort Mac Public Arts Advisory Council. Peggy also worked with Heritage Sandy Springs Museum and Park, The Center for Working Families Inc. (TCWFI) and Mission4Movement (nonprofit foundation for Dance 411) consulting on messaging, marketing, fundraising, community engagement and partnerships.

Leadership: Peggy was the Executive Director for Callanwolde Fine Arts Center  for 5 years. The Callanwolde team under Peggy’s direction transformed the center in less than 5 years (Press Release Link – Peggy Still Johnson Retiring from Callanwolde Fine Arts Peggy has served on the Fulton County Arts Council Literary-Media Grant Approval Panel and has also worked with the Buckhead Club serving on their Membership Committee. Peggy serves on the Advisory Board for Georgia State University School of Music, Georgia Intellectual Property Alliance (GIPA), US Intellectual Property Alliance (USIPA), Georgia Music Partners, Atlanta Film Society/Atlanta Film Festival, has served 6+ years on the Board of Governors (Composer Seat) for The Recording Academy (Grammy Organization.) She is an Alumna of Leadership Atlanta (class of 2013), Leadership DeKalb (class of 2014) and Leadership Sandy Springs (class of 2020).

Musical Career:

Peggy performed with the GSU University Singers at Lincoln Center in New York and has also performed professionally since 1982 in San Diego, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Atlanta, Montego Bay (Jamaica,) Maui (Hawaii,) Colombia-South America, Washington D.C., Las Vegas and throughout the southeast. Peggy was the keyboardist and vocalist for Atlanta’s most popular Dance/Party Band – formerly known as “The Celebrity Rock Band” – now known as “BandX”. She performed with BandX at The Grand Wailea for President George and Barbara Bush in Maui and performed with Mickey Thomas (Starship/Jefferson Starship), Jeff Carlisi (38 Special), and Jenny McCarthy at The Palms Resort and Brian Howe (Bad Company) at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas. Peggy sang (soprano) in a 30 voice gospel choir in 2017 for a Christmas television special backing up legends Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, Patti LaBelle and Yolanda Adams.

Peggy was featured in Urban Lux Magazine – “People on the Move”. Peggy has also sung the “National Anthem” as a soloist at Turner Field for the Atlanta Braves, Philips Arena for the Atlanta Hawks, and the Kaiser Permanente 5K Run in Atlanta (18,ooo runners.) Peggy re-released her avant garde recording entitled Footsteps in 2010 and released Reflections in 2019. Reflections is a collection of songs including one dedicated to her mother and another dedicated to her daughter. Through Pendulum-Productions and Pendulum Music Label, Peggy released Hello World and Pendulum in 2021.

In 2009 Peggy was hired by Scott Houston (5 time Emmy Award Winner – known as “The Piano Guy”) to speak at his National Seminar in Indiana for his “Play Piano in a Flash” teaching program. In 2006, Peggy was hired by Paramount Pictures to train actress Edith Ivey on piano for her role as the piano teacher (Mrs. Maples) in the 2008 blockbuster movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.). The film was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, winner of 3 Academy Awards. In 2010, Peggy received composing, casting, and coaching credit for her work in the Independent Film Requiem for Herstory which was nominated for Best Short Film in the Toronto Female Eye Film Festival.

The film was also screened at the NewFilmmakers Summer Festival in New York City and has received praise from the faculty of Columbia University Film Dept. Jade Films released the theme song (composed by Peggy) “Pie Jesu” in 2011. “Pie Jesu” was on the ballot for the 54th Grammy Awards and nominated for an Indie Award for Best Classical and Orchestral Song (Independent Label Music Award.) In 2010, Peggy received sound management and mixing credit for her work in the Independent Film Like Sugar on the Tip of My Lips. The film was shown at Cannes Film Festival, Women’s International Film Festival, and received 3rd place prize of Director’s cut for the Black Maria Film + Video Festival. Peggy also received sound and music supervision management credit for the Independent Film Life.Less.  In 2010, Peggy helped with piano casting and coaching for Big Momma’s House 3, casting and coaching (MoNique) in Bessie (HBO film starring Queen Latifah and MoNique), and Peggy also received sound and music supervision management credit and composing credit on the documentary After the Fall.  In 2019, Peggy launched Pendulum-Productions developing projects and providing fundraising, production, music supervision, music and sound design. In 2019-2021 Peggy worked with her team at Pendulum-Productions providing music and sound design for the documentary Hello World distributed by Gravitas VenturesIn 2021 Pendulum Music Label and Pendulum-Productions released Hello World Soundtrack. Peggy is currently producing and working on Lion’s Tooth, Heianzan, WE Sing, Abigail and the Dream Adventurers, Don’t Worry I’m Fine and her team at Pendulum-Productions will be providing music and sound design for all 5 projects.
Peggy also worked on casting for the hit TV show America’s Got Talent, American Idol, and casting for Parental Guidance starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler. Peggy was hired as a coach for the television show Greenleaf.  Peggy worked on the musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County written by Stephen King and music by John Mellencamp (T Bone Burnett – Musical Director.) Peggy was the vocal coach and copyist (working on the musical score.) The musical was premiered spring of 2012 and began touring in 2013.

Peggy has worked with Justin Guarini (American Idol), employed hundreds of musicians, and also personally taught hundreds of musicians including national and local celebrities such as Kimi Shelter and Kriss Tokaji (Starbenders); Rebecca Lovell and Megan Lovell (Larkin Poe); Josie Dunn; Dean Roland (Collective Soul); Brandon Bush (Sugarland); Monique; Babi Mac; Justin Guarino (American Idol);  Rachele Gilmore (Metropolitan Opera); Brad Shaw, Mike Shaw, Jacob Morrell (The Head); Sonny Mack; Tanner Hendon (Madison Studios); Joe Gransden; Sydney Ward; Chelsea Szegidewicz;  Tuk Smith (The Biters); Amy Gerhartz; Joelle; Justin Martin (Lion King, High School Musical 3, The Soloist); Jon Mero (The Voice); Cristina Quinones (Georgia Music Hall of Fame Horizon Award Recipient); and more. A great supporter of education, Peggy was an award presenter for the 2011 Televised Shuler Hensley Awards at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Peggy also worked with Tony award winning actor Shuler Hensley in the Ghost Brothers of Darkland County musical.

In 2011, Peggy arranged, performed and recorded music for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ dedication of their Atlanta Temple in which the President of the church, the late President Thomas S. Monson, was in attendance. Peggy arranged 2 choral pieces, 2 five piece instrumental medleys, and recorded most of the piano tracks for the youth choir performing in the Atlanta Civic Center. Peggy also composed the music for the Points of Light presentation at the Kennedy Center.

Arts Advocate:
Peggy has also been an arts advocate speaking to politicians in Washington D.C. and in Georgia about the need for artist tax incentives and protection of artist intellectual property/creator rights.

Business Owner:

Peggy founded The Peggy Still School of Music in 1988 and the school grew to 3 locations and an enrollment of over 600 students and 45  instructors. Peggy successfully sold the Peggy Still School of Music in 2011 which today is now known as North Fulton School of  Music. Some of the finest musicians in the southeast have taught at The Peggy Still School of Music. Peggy is proud of the many accomplishments of the staff and students. Many of the students have won college scholarships, contests, auditions, lead roles in plays locally and on Broadway, TV and movies, recording contracts, and have become professional musicians and/or serious music hobbyists.  Peggy has also enjoyed working with the many schools in North Fulton County as the pianist of many choral and drama productions. Peggy Still Johnson founded the Peggy Johnson Productions and Talent, Inc.  in 2009 and provided services in casting, coaching, composing, and sound design. Peggy and her team developed talent and projects. Peggy Still Johnson also founded a non-profit corporation in 1999 to benefit the community and musicians.

The Peggy Johnson Foundation for the Performing Arts, Inc. was founded to provide the community, community organizations, charities, and community events with performance opportunities and entertainment at minimal or no charge. PJFPA provided the community with diverse styles of musical entertainment to be excellent, educational, wholesome, and artistic.

Personal Mission Statement: “The arts touch lives and souls and can be the glue in our community.” Peggy’s personal mission is to help those in need in our community and support outreach, community engagement and the arts. “Our community will not be truly successful unless it contains a support of those in need and a support of the arts.” Peggy lives in Atlanta with her husband Scott Johnson – he is the love of her life. Their amazing adult daughter Ashley lives in Atlanta with her son Landen. Left: Peggy sings and performs with Oscar Winner Kevin Kline (Kevin is an accomplished pianist.)

Justin Guarini – Actor and Recording Artist

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Justin Guarini – American Idol star, Singer, Songwriter, Recording Artist, Actor, Film and Broadway star

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“Thank you for all your help, it was invaluable. It was great working with you and Madison Studios.”

Latest Reviews

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Kelly Taylor – Singer, Songwriter, Recording Artist

kelly taylor

“Within just a few lessons, Peggy has transformed my voice, she has prepared me with the tools to open up my sound, while keeping it strong and yet learning how to use control to articulate and soften my delivery when needed. I will definitely continue to see her, I’ve never known a more effective vocal coach.”

 

America’s Got Talent

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Peggy Johnson Productions and Talent was contacted by America’s Got Talent casting directors in Los Angeles to find talent for their show for private auditions.

 

We sent in 12 videos and 3 artists were selected!

 

We wish them all the best in the 2011 season.

What Makes a Video Go Viral

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“What Makes a Video Go Viral?”

by Robert Marshall

What is it exactly that makes a video go viral? More importantly, what does it mean for a video to be “viral” in the first place? As defined by the Oxford online dictionary, “viral” can be defined as: “relating to or involving an image, video, piece of information, etc. that is circulated rapidly from one Internet user to another.” Simple, right? What could be hard about writing Rebecca Black’s “Friday” or catching the next double rainbow on film? Not much, to be sure, but putting your video in a position where it will be seen by thousands of viewers is a bit trickier.

Many companies specialize in taking clients’ videos to 100,000+ views and beyond, but the important question is how this is achieved. The answer is two-fold: production and promotion.

Production

If you are verily vying to get your video to go viral, here are some expert tips (Greenberg, 2007):

  • Keep it short: if it’s a long concept, break it into manageable clips
  • Plan for remixing: the more your video can be incorporated into other content, the better (ie: “Dramatic Hamster”)
  • Make it shocking
  • Fake headlines: make your viewers question reality
  • Pretty ladies

Promotion

The “Most Viewed” Page

Looking for your first views? Make sure they’re from the right sources!

  • Blogs: reach out to individuals who run relevant blogs. If necessary, you may pay these individuals to post/embed your video.
  • Forums: start a conversation (and talk to yourself). When posting on forums, make sure to have multiple accounts to generate whatever size buzz you can muster.
  • Facebook: there are a myriad of ways to move your video to viral status using Facebook.
  1. Share your video with your entire friend list.
  2. Start an event that announces the launch date and invite everyone.
  3. Tag friends in a note about the video.
  4. Post video to Facebook Video, with a link back to the YouTube page.
  • Email Lists: depending on the size of this list, mass emails can be a very effective way to gain easy views.

 

Title Optimization

Your video is much more likely to achieve viral status if it has a pointed and direct title. Fortunately, YouTube video titles can be changed endlessly, so consider including buzzwords like “exclusive,” “behind the scenes,” or “leaked video” to add to your hype.

 

Thumbnail Optimization

YouTube chooses your thumbnail options based on what content is showing at the exact middle of your video. Use this to your advantage when editing. Also, try to include a face or person in your thumbnail. Think of all the swimwear model videos with hundreds of thousands of views. This strategy is obviously not necessary, but it can help.

 

Here are some other tips on getting your video from popular to viral:

  • Comments: have outrageous, heated discussions in your comments section. You can use multiple accounts, stage arguments with friends, or, if you’re lucky, you might find two people who don’t need your help arguing about your video.
  • Releasing Strategy: release all your videos at once. It may seem safe to post one video a day to keep your content fresh, but if a viewer is wild about your video, why make them wait to see more?
  • Strategically Tag: yes, you can use YouTube to create searchable keywords for your video, but you can also use custom tags that only you use to link back to your own videos on the “Related Videos” page.
  • Analytics: add “?video=1” to the end of your URL. This makes it easier to track inbound links with Google Analytics, TubeMogul, VidMetrix, or other metrics tools

 

With 10,000+ video uploads every day, it can be a lot of work to create a worth-watching video on YouTube, and even more work to give your worthy brainchild the exposure it deserves. However, with a little creativity, some tech-savvy-ness, and a little slight of hand, you can turn your video from an under-seen masterpiece into a viral hit!

 

Sources:

http://techcrunch.com/2007/11/22/the-secret-strategies-behind-many-viral-videos/

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/viral?q=viral

5 Quick Tips to Prepare your Voice for Performance

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When you perform on stage, you exercise your voice throughout the full range. In order to make sure you are better prepared, there are five quick tips that vocal teachers at the Peggy Still School of Music recommend:

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1Keep your voice lubricated with water. A dry throat and mouth can be harmful to the voice on the day of a performance. As a rule, try to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. If you are singing early in the morning, try drinking a glass of hot tea with honey and lemon followed with plenty of water.

2If you are recovering from a cold and have a bit of a “gravelly” feeling in your throat, mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a tablespoon of honey. The vinegar will kill the lingering bacteria and the honey will soothe your throat.

3 Warm up before you sing. Avoid singing too high or loud and soft or low. Keep your warm-ups in the middle range. Be careful not to strain your voice.

4 Watch what you eat. Certain foods can help or harm your voice before a performance. Dairy, pasta, and chocolate will dry your voice out. Apples and soup tend to be recommended because they will lubricate your vocal cords and not dry your mouth and throat. Be sure to not sing on an empty or full stomach. This can alter your ability to sing and breathe effectively. Try to eat healthy foods.

5 Continuously practice before a performance. You will only develop more as a musician if you practice. Try to know your melody, rhythm and lyrics a few weeks in advance of the performance. Grab friends or family and perform your piece for them. This will help you get prepared for an audience.

Interested in making music?
Want to learn more?
Fulfill that curiosity now!

CLICK HERE to sign up today and learn more than you could ever dream when it comes to music!
You can also email info@peggystill.com or call 770-753-0322 for more information.

12 Performance Secrets Revealed

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  1. Pick songs that fit the gig and also songs that your audience will want to hear. Performing is about your audience – especially if you want them to come back and support you again.
  2. Dress well and dress so you fit in at the venue and gig. Many musicians do not realize how important appearance is. If you are not good with style, then ask a friend who has great style to help you. Professional artists have the complete package.
  3. Preparation is key – know the venue and try to see another performer/group perform there prior to your gig. You might pick up on some things to be aware of with sound, lighting, accompanying musicians, and stage setup.  Also practice, practice, practice…you are what you practice.
  4. Practice in front of the mirror so you can see what you really look like performing. You might be surprised at how good you look or things you might want to change. Watch music videos of other artists and what they do and copy some of their stage presence ideas.
  5. Focus is key – if you have trouble focusing and get nervous – find a focal point somewhere in the room you can look at so the audience thinks you are looking at them and smiling at them – maybe find a couple of focal points so you are looking at more than one place. Make sure the focal point is just above the heads of your audience. This way you will not be distracted by their expression on their faces or things they do.
  6. Know what key you are playing in so you can always have an ending planned with a final chord or cadence in case you blank out. Also never let a mistake show on your face ever – keep going, your audience probably won’t notice the mistake. If you are singing – always have a plan to use words from another verse or chorus in case you have a brain freeze and cannot remember the lyrics. A true professional always has a plan.
  7. Have a bailout plan – if you have problem areas in your performance, have a plan on how to quick change to keep from having a train wreck on stage. If things are going well, then go with the original plan – if things are not going so well, maybe change the high note to a low note or simplify the riff you are singing or playing.
  8. For vocalists – bring ear plugs. If you are having a difficult time hearing yourself, put an earplug in one ear and you will be able to focus on your pitch if you are singing. If you are singing at Turner Field or a large outside stadium, wear 2 earplugs so the delay does not mess you up.  If you are in a band, please note vocalists tend to over-sing and sing too loud. Putting an earplug in one ear helps to keep the volume at a better level so the pitch is correct and your voice will not sound distorted in the microphone. Remember, microphones are not meant to be yelled into. Take a lesson in microphone technique if you do not know much about microphones and sound (your sound engineer will be happier with you.)
  9. Get to the gig early. This will keep you calm – also reliability is just as important as talent especially if you want to get hired again. The venue does not want to hear about your drama on how you tried to get there on time or early.
    If you have promotional materials about yourself and/or a press kit – always bring them with you. Opportunity comes when we least expect it.
  10. Promote, promote, promote! Help the venue make some money and they will invite you back.
  11. Most important- Stay healthy – weeks before your gig and up until your gig, you should get lots of rest and eat right. Don’t stay out all night or go to an amusement park the day/night before your gig.
What more could you do to be better prepared?

Peggy Still Johnson’s Personal Advice & Performance Tips

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On August 25th, 2009 Peggy Still Johnson was invited to sing the National Anthem for the Atlanta Braves! What was more interesting was that the Braves were playing against the San Diego Padres, Peggy’s hometown team. Let’s not get into details as to who won the game; the highlight of the night was most dPeggy-at-Braves-vs-Padresefinitely Peggy’s performance. We got a chance to ask her a few questions about her performance.

Q: First off, were you nervous? Better yet, how nervous were you? PSJ: I was definitely nervous! but knew how important it was to stay focused. The National Anthem is not something you want to mess up – We Americans take our Anthem very seriously. It’s personal for all of us.

Q: What did you do in order to overcome your pre-performance jitters? PSJ: I just made sure I was very prepared both musically and mentally. You hear it all the time but it’s so true, “Practice makes perfect”. I’ve learned the best antidote to nerves is preparation. I also went to a Braves game earlier in the season to get an idea of where to stand, what to do, and just make notes! I also try and make my preparation fun. I wanted to make sure my performance was as perfect as possible.

Q: Do you have any tips for others performers about how to get over any unsettling nerves or pre-misconceptions about performing in front of any size crowd? PSJ: Wherever you perform, whether it’s in a stadium or a living room in front of your family, the first key is to stay focused. Find a focal point on a wall or anywhere you think is best and sing to it. Smile, nod, show emotion as if singing to an audience. That way you as an artist can remain focused on words, pitch, and stage presence. It helps me, and will for you, so much with not being easily distracted. Also practice practice practice! When that big performance day comes you don’t want to be regretting while you’re nervous at the same time. This is meant to be fun. The more prepared you are, the more you’ll be able to enjoy it and the better you’ll do!

Q: I feel many of us think it’s impossible to get to a high level of performing such as the Braves game, what would you say about that? PSJ: Nothing is impossible. If you have the talent, are prepared, and partake in all the opportunities to perform, doors will be opened. You begin to meet the right people and soon if you have a good CD and promotional materials, people will book you for events. Also you cannot give up – keep trying. You have to believe you can do it, and then put that belief into action.

Q: Any other inside performing secrets you are willing to let us in on? PSJ: Of course! These are just a few rules each time I perform. These are what I guess you would call my “secret performing recipe”.

  1. Pick songs that fit the gig and also songs that your audience will want to hear. Performing is about your audience – especially if you want them to come back and support you again.
  2. Dress well and dress so you fit in at the venue and gig. Many musicians do not realize how important appearance is. If you are not good with style, then ask a friend who has great style to help you. Professional artists have the complete package.
  3. Get to the gig early. This will keep you calm – also reliability is just as important as talent especially if you want to get hired again. The venue does not want to hear about your drama on how you tried to get there on time or early.
  4. Promote promote promote! Help the venue make some money and they will invite you back.

So there you have it! Your inside scoop on Peggy Still Johnson’s personal performance tips and secrets.

Fulfil that curiosity now!

Start off with taking lessons at the Peggy Still School of Music for whatever area of music you want. We’ll teach you more than you could ever dream about when it comes to music. Not only that, with The Peggy Still School of Music you get to learn and be shown off at any of our performance events. So put these tips into action now and let us personally help you one on one.

Email info@peggystill.com to receive more information or call 770-753-0322.

Edith Ivey – Actress (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

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Edith Ivey began her career in New York where she widely worked on radio soap operas, such as The Guiding Light,Whispering Streets, and Our Gal Sunday. Many of these performances were live, Edith’s favorite type or work.